Tuesday, February 28, 2012

House Hunting Round 2

This past weekend Bryan and I drove back to Cleveland to continue the search for our new house. As I mentioned before, we made an offer on a house and it was accepted by the seller! We had an inspection on that house scheduled this past weekend, and we also planned to see more houses to keep our options open since we knew of some large question marks on that house. We ended up walking away from that deal and are in the process of pursuing another house. Exciting times!

While we were in Cleveland this weekend, we had some time to ourselves to try some of the local establishments. So far we've tried a wine bar, a pizza place (the best ever!) and a Mexican restaurant all nearby the area that we are looking for houses. We are excited to live in this fun area with lots of restaurants and shops to explore!

On these long drives back and forth from Chicago to Cleveland, we've been thinking about the fact that we're moving away from a large city filled with excitement and things to do around every corner to a smaller city where we will have a different experience. While we are very excited about this move, we are realizing that it's going to be a pretty big change! No longer will we live in a fun destination city, but we are excited to discover all that Cleveland has to offer.

This was evident on the drive home where we saw airplane tails criss-crossing all over the sky. We're moving to "flyover country." At least the sunsets are beautiful!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Leek and Pancetta Risotto, and a major update!

Whew, where has all the time gone? Since we found out where Bryan was matched for urology residency a few weeks ago, we've been so busy and time has just flown by!! Most of our spare time was spent researching houses in the Cleveland area. Some websites we found extremely helpful were Zillow and Realtor. We also checked out a few others, but these were our favorites. We also spent a considerable amount of time on the local realtor website for the area. Bryan found us a realtor and a mortgage broker within a week, and he also got us pre approved for a mortgage! We're headed in the right direction!! I had to stop reading books that I was reading and substitute Home Buying for Dummies into my repertoire. Bryan and I both read this book prior to going house hunting in Cleveland last weekend. This book is really great and discusses everything one would want to know about home buying and I would highly recommend it!

Last weekend was quite eventful. House hunting turned out to be exhausting! It was fun, but not all fun and games. We saw about 15 houses and took it all in! There were some really great houses, and some that were sub par. The very last house we saw fit pretty well with what we were looking for, and we stayed an extra day to make an offer on it! Even better news, the culmination of events this week has led the seller to accept our 2nd offer!! It's not a for sure thing yet because we still have to go through the home inspection, which will be next weekend. We can back out if we are not comfortable with anything about the inspection. We are trying not to get our sights set on this house, since it's not a done deal yet, but the whole thing is pretty exciting :)

Could you believe that there is even more that I have to catch you up on? I'll try to be concise.

To celebrate the match, we went to dinner at our absolute favorite restaurant in Chicago - Girl & The Goat. I had made reservations back in October to surprise Bryan after the match! As always, the food was spectacular. I think I have a new favorite vegetable from the menu, the Brussels sprouts!! They were cooked perfectly and tossed in a light sauce and served as a hot salad with salad extras and nuts. Delicious!

I've been cooking off and on, but usually it's just something thrown together quickly and I've forgotten to take a picture for the ol' blog. Oops. Well, I finally snagged a picture of this delicious meal - Leek and Pancetta Risotto - a current favorite, after the 2nd time we made it in a week! The first time, we were so hungry and excited that we dug right on in before I even thought to take a picture! The good news was that once I had my first bite, I knew that this dish was going to make a semi regular appearance in our household! It's just wonderful! I totally love leeks, and we all know that pancetta is just fancy bacon and bacon makes everything better. I thought that the dish might be a little bland considering the only seasoning was salt and pepper, but it was quite flavorful! I omitted the salt considering there was pancetta, parmesan cheese, and chicken broth in the recipe and I didn't think it was necessary. It was not missed, and this dish turned out perfectly. The poached egg on top is optional, but it's totally worth it! We actually fried the eggs since it would be faster and our plastic poachers are in a cup shape and I didn't think it would look good on this dish. It turned out that the fried egg didn't look that great either, but once the yolk got mixed in, I didn't care what it looked like. It was gone before I knew it!! If you need to impress someone, make this dish and it will not disappoint! We made it last week when our friend Jen came over for the evening.

We made it again yesterday, as we had some great friends in town, and I was finally able to snap a quick picture! Bobby and Sarah (my best friend from college) visited us in Chicago for a long weekend since today is a holiday! We had a blast! They got in late friday night and we just chit chatted and drank some wine. Saturday was a full day! We started out with a casual brunch at home and then headed out to the Art Institute! On the way, mingled through Millennium Park to take pictures near the bean.

We were exhausted after the museum! The boys took a short nap while Sarah and I got our bake on in the kitchen! We made a cheesecake that a mutual friend had made for her a few weeks ago. It was a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with an oreo crust! Each bite had the perfect amount of sweet, savory and chocolate! I can't take credit for the recipe, but I can take credit for helping put a huge dent in the cheesecake!!

After the cheesecake was ready to set in the fridge, we headed out for a fun night! We had reservations for dinner at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, a Spanish tapas restaurant. Luckily, it's also Restaurant Week here in Chicago, so were able to take advantage of menu specials that allowed us to try many tapas! We also shared a couple of pitchers of sangria! Let's just say that we were well on our way of having a great time! After dinner, we had a little time to spare before going to Second City, the greatest comedy show ever. The show was so awesome! Our cheeks were sore from laughing so hard! At the end of the show, the actors actually stayed for a 3rd act that was completely improv and it was hilarious! Needless to say, we got back very late and were happy to get to bed!

Sunday was a relaxing day. We started out with brunch at Meli Cafe, one of the best brunch places we've found! They also have a juice bar that makes delicious smoothies! The food was fantastic and just what we needed to start our morning. We didn't have any plans, and decided that we wanted to relax all day since Saturday was so busy. We came back to our condo, started watching The King's Speech, and promptly all took a nap - except for Bryan! The evening consisted of a quick work out followed by a delicious progressive dinner. We started out with some cheese fondue that we dipped bread, broccoli and apples into. A little later, we made the infamous Leek and Pancetta Risotto, and later we enjoyed the cheesecake!! The evening was spent by drinking wine and playing our new favorite board game. Ticket to Ride is a fun game that we were introduced to by some friends and we've fallen in love with it! It's very fun and I highly recommend it! Bobby and Sarah left this morning to go back to Minneapolis and we will miss them. It was such a fun weekend!!!

Leek and Pancetta Risotto
From The Red Spoon

Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and white and light green parts finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped pancetta
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, at room temperature
4 to 5 cups hot chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


In a large sautee pan set over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add the leeks and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Remove the leeks to a bowl and set aside. In the same pan, add the pancetta and cook until it begins to render its fat and is soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the pancetta to the reserved leeks. Set aside. Drain fat from pan and melt 4 tablespoons of the butter.

Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, until all the butter has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and reduce until dry, about 2 minutes.

Add enough stock so that the fluid level rises just above the rice. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently. Continue adding stock as it is absorbed so the stock just covers the top of the rice. Continue cooking until the rice is al dente, about 10 – 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in a bit more stock, the parmesan and the leeks and pancetta. Remove from the heat divide into four bowls, sprinkling with extra parmesan cheese. Serve with a poached egg on top.